The Earthborn: Freelancing | Earthborn | Biogenesis

Freelancing Image

Title: Freelancing

Series: The Earthborn

Book #: 0

Publisher: Quantum Edge Publishing

Published: January 21, 2018

Formats:

eBook
Paperback

FREELANCING

The Earthborn Prequel

Freelancing in galactic space is hazardous to your health, unless you’re Blake Brown, a four-hundred-plus-year-old vampire exiled from Earth. After serving as an intelligence agent in the Fredorian Rangers for twenty years, he has his sights set on trying out the mercenary bounty system with his abductee brother, Seth Williams.

It’s one thing to find a bounty or contract they can attempt with so little to their name. Fulfilling it is another. Starting off small, they take a simple contract to retrieve a stolen ship. The problem is the thief is Alcarez, a mad cyborg with a small army.

Finding Alcarez will be an issue, but doing so with minimal equipment comes with its own set of concerns. Despite these challenges, Blake and Seth will show the freelancing community what Earthborn can do.


Read the sample below!


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Where to get it for free

Although Freelancing is available as an eBook for .99, it is free to mailing list subscribers. To receive your copy, just tell me where to send it.


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Series Note

This is intended as an introduction to two of the main characters in the Earthborn series. There will be more characters in the series, but these two are the ones who start it off. It's not critical to the rest of the series, but does go into detail on the first contract they do when they begin freelancing.


SAMPLE

Chapter One

A stream of bullets flew by Blake Brown’s head as he slipped behind a steel pillar in a large underground transportation hub. The Trag mercenaries that had him pinned down wanted him dead, the result of sabotaging their illegal cargo in an unmarked warehouse. Notifying local law enforcement about where to pick it up just pissed off the Trags even more.

“Give up already, Fredorian,” said one of the mercs.

“I’m fucking Earthborn, asshole,” said Blake as he squatted and turned his head off to the side. Looking around, he saw the dead civilians that had been caught in the cross fire. It was not something he had intended to happen, but the Trags were ruthless and did not care who got in their way. He pulled a small optical reconnaissance device off his belt and tossed it forward. After a moment, the heads-up display in his helmet showed three mercs ducking in and out between the pillars. When one of them tried to cross, Blake peeked out and took aim. One trigger press later and the merc was on the ground, pumped full of metal. Blake pulled back into cover.

“Shit! He got Gaaulst,” said one of the mercs.

Blake ducked as the dinging sound of bullets hitting the pillar filled the air.

“You can’t live forever,” said another merc.

“I don’t need to, just longer than you,” said Blake. He contemplated his options. Rushing out with his chameleon shield active was not possible since the Trags had sensors for that. They came prepared to hunt him, something he would need to investigate if he survived this.

Another option was bouncing a grenade off the wall at them. There was the possibility they could scramble out of the way, or have highly rated kinetic shielding. The third option was out of the question. If he had stronger kinetic shielding, he could just run out and lay waste to them. That was the trade-off of having a suit with chameleon versus heavy kinetic shielding. As he was deciding, his HUD showed one of the mercs peeping out.

The merc shot a grenade toward Blake.

Using his vampire reflexes, Blake angled himself and kicked the grenade back.

It hit the ground in front of the nearest merc’s pillar and exploded, causing the ceiling to cave in.

Blake moved out of the way when his pillar fell toward him. He hugged it close as the pillar hit the wall, creating a small space under it. A part of the ceiling landed on the pillar and then slid to the sides at an angle. The rest of the ceiling piled up around him, trapping him inside.

After a moment, all was silent.

He closed his eyes and focused. His vampire senses could detect their heartbeats, and the sound of their footsteps was loud, even with the cracking sounds of the rubble around him. A pain shot up his arm as he realized it had been hit by debris. In all the excitement, it had not even registered. Now it did.

With his free arm, he grabbed a blood vial out of his belt pocket. Drinking it caused the familiar fire-in-the-blood feeling he had come to rely upon. His active healing kicked in, and his eyes turned a dim blue. He emitted a low growl as strength coursed through him. This was not the worst situation he had ever been in.

“You think he’s dead?” asked one of the mercs.

“No idea. Should probably blow the whole damn place up just to make sure. They say Blake Brown is unkillable, but I think … we’re about to prove everyone wrong.”

Blake focused his senses on their positions and placed his hands on the slab facing toward the mercs. With an intense focus, he pushed.

The slab launched forward and hit one of the mercs, pinning him to the ground as it landed.

Blake lurched forward and pulled out his dual energy blades.

With one quick slice, the other startled merc screamed as his arm, from the elbow down, fell to the ground. Another slice silenced him as his head flew off his body.

Blake turned his gaze toward the merc on the ground who was struggling to get out from under the slab. As Blake approached, he checked out his black, light armor to see if there was any damage. After verifying it was in good shape, he thought about how he had gotten to this point. Ten mercs had originally jumped him in the warehouse. These three were the only ones who survived to chase him. How they knew he would be there was a mystery. They probably expected him to use his dual energy blades, which was fair. It was one of his more well-known tactics. Too bad for them he was also well versed in ranged weaponry.

With his enhanced vampire senses, he could smell that the merc had crapped his armor. Trags smelled like shit in general, but when they let loose, it was hard to ignore that smell. He shook his head. Trags. Seven-foot-tall beige-skinned humanoids with bumpy skin, floppy ears, and heavy ridges on their heads. They were tough physically, but not the brightest. He had been dealing with them for most of his career. If they were involved, their contractor was short on cash.

He retracted his helmet into his neck guard, exposing his pale skin. A cool breeze swept across his face. He rolled his head back and forth while cracking his neck and then ran a hand along the shaved sides of his scalp. Although the helmet provided good defense and enhanced awareness, having it off and using his pure vampiric senses was sometimes better, depending on the situation. He squeezed the back of his neck and then brushed his hand through the short jet-black hair that stood up on the top of his head. As he squatted next to the merc, he shook a finger and said, “I bet you’re wondering … is Blake Brown going to drink me dry?”

The merc struggled to breathe as his eyes fluttered.

“Oh … don’t worry. Your blood is like drinking mud water. Works in a pinch, but not something any self-respecting vampire would touch,” said Blake. With a pat on the merc’s bobbing head, Blake said, “Your death is coming. I can sense it. And smell it. Maybe next time you ambush me and try to kill me, you actually do it. If you don’t … well … things like this happen.”

The merc spit up blood as he began to wheeze.

Blake reached over to the merc’s vest and rummaged around. He pulled out a small credit-card-like device. Shaking it at the merc, he said, “This’ll help me fill in some of the blanks. I appreciate you bringing it to my attention.” He eyed the dying merc as he stood. “Enjoy your death. If I were you, I’d be pissed if I died.”

The merc shuddered, then stopped moving.

Looking around, Blake noted that the rest of the pillars were still standing. He picked up the optical reconnaissance device he had tossed out earlier and put it back into a panel that extended out from his upper leg. The sound of footsteps caught his attention. With a tap at his belt, a chameleon shield enveloped him, blending him in with the environment.

Ancabaar civilians had already begun to filter in from the ramps, and the distant sound of incoming law enforcement could be heard. The Ancabaar were a rowdy humanoid race with a penchant for violence. Their home world of Gorith was long known as a safe haven for illegal activities. It was no surprise Trags would be found there.

When the first response robots arrived, Blake had reached the ramp at the opposite end of the hub and was on his way out. He knew that the always-on security feed would probably have recorded the whole encounter, at least before being destroyed by the cave-in. Given how many aliens were around, it would be difficult to identify a faceless defender with body armor and a helmet similar to the local citizens’.

He located a transportation tube and waited for the next available unit. When it arrived, he hopped in and entered the destination coordinates to the nearby space port. It was time to leave.

“Estimated time of arrival: forty-five minutes,” said the unit.

He sighed as he placed his assault rifle off to the side and relaxed back into his seat. Checking his wrist device showed it to be March 5, 2032, 2:00 p.m. Although time varied in many of the areas where he traveled, he still used Earth time as his guide. As a vampire, he needed a set amount of sleep every six months. He could do part of it per day, or in chunks per week, or even by month. Ingestion of blood helped sustain any side effects from sleep deprivation. On Earth, he would sleep six months every few years. As a ranger, he would take a few weeks off every six months between missions.

Although he had spent over four hundred years on Earth as a vampire, he never had to deal with aliens much. That was usually the domain of the Helians, the group that represented Earth to the galactic community due to their advanced technological status. His eyes narrowed. He was only here because he had been exiled by the Helians for killing one of their enforcers, known as managers. That exile meant galactic slavers had captured him during his month-long sleep in Minnesota. A small grin formed as he thought about how he killed all but one of the slavers when they tried to wake him on the ship.

That led him to Fredoria, a destination planet for humans that had been abducted, then freed. Fredoria was his new home world. He tried to explain that he needed to go back to Earth, but Fredoria said that was not possible. Apparently, Earth was a protected planet since it had not utilized condensed space travel yet. It was under the control of the Kreagan Star Empire, the regional galactic superpower. Per Kreagan law, any human from Earth, or Earthborn, that had been abducted could not return to Earth, in an effort to avoid knowledge pollution. Instead, they were sent to Fredoria.

Fredoria had been generous to him, but after many generations, it had its own culture, one that looked down on Earthborn, or so it seemed to him. Fredoria classified him as a Daedrould, although vampire was the more common term. Being a vampire made things worse, as most Fredorians considered him an abomination. Given how many aliens there were, he found that curious.

He sighed as he focused on his current mission. Discovering the location of the illegal cargo was the easy part since he had a master rank among the Fredorian Rangers, an elite unit separate from the Fredorian Defense Force. Rangers still reported to the Fredorian government, but were voted in by the people, something the FDF hated. Missions like the one he just completed were not something the FDF usually handled. The hard part of the mission had been placing the beacons that alerted the local authorities. Typically, the movers were one step ahead of local law enforcement, but not if they were tracked.

He looked down at his weapon. He had seen many in his time. Fredorian assault rifles were blocky in design, with multiple barrels that extended out. Despite being known for the ability to spit metal at high velocity, they could also shoot grenades, and were light in general. The recoil was not too bad, and they were fairly accurate at short to medium range. The thirty-fourth version of the Fredorian assault rifle, or FAR-34 striker, was standard among the rangers due to its versatility. He also carried two side pistols, but rarely used them.

A smile crept onto Blake’s face. This was his last mission with the rangers, and he was looking forward to moving on. All that was left was to get to his ship, dock with a Kreagan transport headed to Fredoria, then meet with Rakar Ho Jador, a Kreagan grandmaster ranger that formed the Fredorian version of the Kreagan Rangers. Although he held a similar rank in the Fredorian Rangers, he was transitioning to a new role outside the rangers, but Blake did not know which one.

When Blake arrived at his destination, he disembarked from the transportation unit and headed into the main hub of the spaceport. It did not take long to get clearance to leave via one of the console interfaces that peppered the large room. He did not have anything with him other than his suit, his blades, his side pistols, and his striker, so he headed to the walkway that led out to his ship.

The sight of his ship always made him comfortable. It looked more like a small shuttle craft, which helped in deception more often than not. Although it was not the greatest in battle, it could move and had basic stealth ability, although stealth usually meant blending in with the surrounding environment, since most sensors could easily detect a ship in open space. That was all he needed, something to get him from place to place within a system. If he had to cross solar systems, he had to be booked on a larger ship that had condensed space drives.

The process for leaving the planet was painless, and much easier than on Fredoria. There were very few questions asked, which suited the nature of the city he was in. After boarding his ship, he fired it up and turned on the autopilot after setting the destination. It would take about twenty minutes to clear the planet and another twenty to dock, then it would be about ten hours until he was back at Fredoria. He was looking forward to the accommodations of the Kreagan transport. They usually had level-two matter replicators and small rooms for travelers. Expensive, but he was not footing the bill.

As his ship ascended through the planet’s atmosphere, he kicked back in the cramped quarters of his ship and watched the clouds go by.